tv The David Rubenstein Show Peer to Peer Conversations Bloomberg March 26, 2017 10:00am-10:31am EDT
♪ david: your last name is krzyzewski. mike: it took me a while to learn how to pronounce it. david: after three years, you had a losing record. mike: a lot of people were calling for my firing. david: you won the national championship. mike: i said we were going to win. i don't know if i believe that, but we ended up winning one of the greatest games in the history of college basketball. david: last year, you won your third gold medal. guys to have those got chests,als around their
to have the national anthem being played, there is nothing better than that. david: what are the most important lessons of leadership? mike: at west point, i learned that failure is not a destination. >> would you fix your tie, please? david: well, people wouldn't recognize me if my tie was fixed, but ok. just leave it this way. alright. ♪ david: i don't consider myself a journalist. and nobody else would consider myself a journalist. i began to take on the life of being an interviewer even though i have a day job of running a private equity firm. how do you define leadership? what is it that makes somebody tick? coach k, thank you for taking time to be with us. mike: thank you. david: i call you coach k, but your last name is krzyzewski. when you were growing up, how wind did you learn how to spell that name? mike: i remember it took me a long time to learn how to pronounce it. we lived in chicago on the north side. my dad was from the south side. during christmas, we would visit relatives, and my uncle joe, who
was a chicago police man, when we would go see him, the first thing when we opened the door he would say, what is your name? before we walked in, i would say to my mom, "mom, what is my name?" she said it's mike krzyzewski. the reason he asked that is because some of my family changed their name to cross because of ethnic discrimination. they couldn't get jobs and that. they did not want krzyzewski. and he wanted me to always have krzyzewski. david: you never considered changing your name?
mike: no, although my dad did use the name cross when he was in world war ii and when he was an elevator operator in downtown chicago. again, he was afraid of not getting jobs. on his tombstone -- he died when i was a senior at west point -- the government paid, and it was "william cross." david: really? mike: we finally had it changed when my mom passed away to say krzyzewski. david: let's talk about how you got into basketball. you grew up in chicago. as you were growing up, did you say i'm going to be a great basketball coach? mike: i was an all-state player and went to catholic schools. i was the leading scorer in the catholic league in chicago for two years and was recruited, but my mom never went to high school. my dad went two years. so when i was recruited by west point, they could not imagine that a polish kid from chicago was going to go to school, could go to a school where presidents went to. david: right. mike: and so i didn't really want to go to west point. david: because? mike: i wanted to dribble behind my back or throw bounce passes there were fancy. i did not want to carry a rifle. david: did you have a division i scholarship offer? mike: oh, yeah. i probably would have gone to creighton, and wisconsin maybe, and, but my parents kept putting pressure.
like they would speak polish in the kitchen. we never had a house, but we had a flat and they would talk in polish. stupid. david: and you did not know polish? mike: i did not. they did not want me to take polish in grade school and high school, so that i would not have an accent. because they were afraid i would be -- david: it was not because they did not want you to hear what they were saying? mike: probably they had a number of different motives, but they would put a few english words in there -- stupid, mike. finally i said i will go, and it was the best decision i never made, you know, to go to west point. it is really, going to west point is the basis, the foundation, of everything i am right now as a man. david: when you went to west point, were the players a better level than you thought they were?
mike: yeah, we were good. yeah, coach knight, bob knight, one of the legendary coaches to coach. we were a top 20 team one of the three years. freshmen were not eligible at that time. we always had a winning record. we went to the nit. the nit was as big as the ncaa during that time, so we were good. we were very good. i got to be a point guard and captain of the team. david: so did people come along and say, well, you have to go into the military, but you're good enough to play in the nba? mike: no, i was not good enough to play in the nba. david: did you know that? mike: yeah, yeah. it's not like it was everyone's dream at that time. my dream coming out of high school was to be a teacher and a coach. and i was able to play a lot during my five years of service. i was a captain in the army, field artillery, but i got to play on a number of all-army and all armed forces teams and travel around the world on
temporary duty a lot during that time. david: so when you finish your military commitment -- when you go to west point, you have a commitment of four-five years. mike: five. david: you finish your commitment, then you got into coaching. where did you first coach? mike: indiana, i was a graduate assistant. i was getting my mba at indiana. coach knight was there, and i was there for one year and did not finish my mba. and i was fortunate to go back to my alma mater at the age of 28 and coach at west point. we took over a program that had seven wins and 44 losses in two years. i got the best start that you could get going there. david: you coach there, then duke was looking for a coach, and they interviewed you. your coaching record the year before you were hired was i think 9-16. mike: 9-17. david: 9-17. so it was not that auspicious. so why did they hire you? well, first of all, they
wanted to make a great decision. you know from your business, a lot of times if you look at one line item, it does not tell the full story. so, we took over a program that was 7-44, and after five years, we were 73-59. david: the athletic director at duke then was tom butters, and he took a chance on someone he know.dy he didn't really your record was explainable but not great. did he know how to pronounce your name? mike: he did. i hit it off with him right away. david: all right, so you got it. the first couple of years were not wonderful. mike: no. david: after three years, you had a losing record. mike: yep. 38-47. david: 38-47. were people calling for your firing? mike: a lot of people were calling for my firing, and we have a fundraising element called the iron dukes. and during my first three years, i was able to establish a new fundraising element called the concerned iron dukes, and they
were concerned about me being there coach. but my athletic director, tom butters, and president terry sanford at that time, said when i was hired, you have a lot of work to do. there is a lot of rebuilding to do here, and just keep doing it. so, i was never worried, whether i was naïve or whatever, and the next year, we turned it around and it went crazy. and it is one of the reasons i stayed at duke. they were loyal to me. i love duke, but i am a big people guy, you know? like, if you are honest with me, you trust me, you believe in me, i am going to be committed to you, and that is how i felt about this university. ♪ david: because you are so successful, a lot of people root against you. mike: our sport is a very intimate sport. you are playing in your shorts and people can see you. they are right on top of you. so if i can see five guys in the
mike: it is really the main thing i have done my whole life. i sought good people. that's why i am at duke for 36 years. how can you be better? how can you be better? [applause] mike: and so, as you move forward, choose your occupation, and all that, but choose people. good people will make you better. believe me. good people will make you better. ♪
david: so you turned it around and then you won the national championship the first time in 1991. mike: right. david: but to do that, you had to defeat a team that crossed you in 1990, unlv. what was that like preparing your team for that? won in a rowd 45 going in. a lot of people felt they were one of the greatest teams in the history of sport, but we were good, too. and the two best players stayed on the team, hurley and laettner, and then we added a player who was better than anybody in grant hill. because unlv had beaten us by so much, i'm not sure they had the edge that we did. and so, we ended up winning one of the greatest games in the history of college basketball, but it was not the championship game. so now, psychologically, we have got to get ready 48 hours and beat kansas, and we were able to turn that around to where they were thinking of kansas, and we won our first one.
david: but the next year you came against kentucky in a semi final, and that became one of the greatest games ever played. mike: right. can you recount what happened at the end? mike: it was really a back-and-forth game, and they went ahead 102-101, and so our guys called a timeout with 2.1 seconds. we were down by a point, and when all the guys came in -- i think the very first thing a leader has to show is strength, and so i met them as they were coming to the bench and i said, "we are going to win. we are going to win." i don't know if i really believed that, but i kept saying it. and then we sat down, and a lot of times it is good to ask a guy to do something instead of telling him, grant hill, i said, can you throw the ball 75 feet? he was going to inbound the ball, and he said, yeah, i can do that. i said, well, i want you to throw a ball and i'm going to
bring laettner up to the top of the key, and i looked at laettner, who was very confident, very cocky, and i said, can you catch it? he said, "coach, if grant throws a good pass, i will catch the ball." david: ok. mike: and i said, "well, he throws it, you catch it, and i'll have two guys run this way, if you don't have a shot, hit one of them and less see what happens." so he threw it, laettner caught it. he dribbled once, which your heart sinks because -- david: he is not a famous dribbler or? mike: no, there are only 2.1 seconds. he had enough courage and knowledge where he put it in, and then he shot the ball and it went in. >> there is the pass to laettner. puts it up. [cheering] david: so you won the game and
went on to win a national championship. the last championship you won, the fifth one, 2015, you are that was a team where you were basically playing freshman. how did that happen? mike: it was a most unusual year. three of the freshman who went pro after that, they went early. they were one and done. they really didn't care, david, about their own stats. if you can find people who are all into winning -- david: you mention the phrase one and done, and for those who are watching this who may not be basketball aficionados, that refers to the fact that today you have to play at least one year of college before you can play in the nba. then you can go professional. mike: and be 19. david: are you a supporter of this one and done rule? mike: it does not make any difference if you are supportive of it. we have no control over it. what you have to do like in like you do in business, is you have to adapt. you are not only adapting to different players over to 40 years i have been a coach, but also adapting when guys leave and the age of the team, how you
teach our culture. so, grant hill, laettner, and hurley, if they were here today, i know mrs. hill and mr. hill would not -- but some probably would have gone after a year. but now, that has changed. it is a different thing. david: let's talk about recruiting. mike: i work harder at recruiting now than i have ever worked, because you have to do it more often. to recruit the top players -- you don't know if they will be one and done, but they will go early. the really good ones are going to go early. so, that means you have to do it over and over, and it is not so much what you do in their home. home. before you get to their home, it's what you do on social media, the texting, how you communicate, the relationship building. relationship building is so much different now than it was then, and that whole landscape has changed dramatically where many
nights you go home and you are texting 17-year-olds. david: let me ask you about the overall program you have built. now, you have a situation where duke is considered royalty in college basketball. but as a result of that, because you are so successful, a lot of people root against you. do take that personally? mike: no, i never take any of that personally. i think that is useless to do that. you can't run your life based on that. and i think though those people respect you, and they respect me and my program. you know, our sport is a very intimate sport. you are playing in your shorts, and people can see you. they are right on top of you. so it is not like what the papers say as much as like during a game where people can say the worst things imaginable. i cannot say them on the show. and they have to be hard-nosed
enough to take that. i get that, too, but i'm older. i can laugh it off. i can see five guys in the front row of some of the arenas who look like doctors or lawyers, and they are giving you finger signs and telling you different things and i say, whoa, you know, where did that come from? ♪ david: last year, you won your third gold medal on behalf of the united states. mike: i love duke. college basketball has been my life, but when you win a gold medal and to have those guys with medals around the necks and your national anthem being played, there is nothing better than that. ♪
mike: so all the teams i have been on -- whether the duke team, or the u.s. team, you would be shocked. we would have these meetings with lebron, kobe, kevin durant, westbrook and all these guys. we sit around and say how are we going to live. we talk about fundamental things, communication. we will look each other in the eye and tell each other the truth. we are going to have each other's back. we are going to show strong faces. we are never going to be late. we are going to be enthusiastic. we are going to win and lose together. those are great standards. ♪ david: let's talk about the olympics. last year, you won your third gold medal on behalf of the united states. mike: the biggest honor, david, is representing your country. you know i love duke. college basketball has been my life, but when you win a gold medal, a world championship or the olympic gold-medal, it is the whole world, and we respect the world. basketball around the world is unbelievable. and to have those guys with
medals around their necks and your national anthem being played, there is nothing better than that. david: initially, you were the assistant coach to the 1992 so-called dream team. mike: dream team, yeah. david: for those who do not at that timeball, it was professionals who played at the olympic level. 1992 was the first time professionals played, and those who played were michael jordan, magic johnson, larry bird among others. what was it like to coach that team? mike: it was literally a dream. and it really set off an explosion worldwide for basketball. international pro players played anyway, and now the players when they were seven-year olds or eight year olds were watching, and it exploded. to be with them would be like if you are in music and have the best singers all on one team, the best musicians, and true professionals. david: so when you coached that team 11 years ago, you won the
olympic gold. what was it like saying to professional players, let me tell you how to do something? mike: well, you say this is how i want you to do something a little bit differently than you do to college players. one is that they are professionals. the other thing is they have a wealth of experience. so when i am coaching college kids, they are going to adapt to me. i am teaching them to change their limits to get better as a unit and individually. when i am with lebron james and kobe bryant and chris paul and all these guys, they are already accomplished. i want to know their best practices, and then my best practices, and what we do, it becomes our best practices. so, we do a lot of adapting so that -- i think, david, a keyword is to create ownership, you know, where where everybody owns it and where they feel like they are not playing for the u.s. they are the u.s. and in order to get that
feeling, we incorporated a lot of work with our military, so that they could get a feeling of what it was to serve our country. and no greater part of our society than the military to teach that. david: so the three olympic teams that you have coached, how would you compare them to the dream team? mike: well the dream team in their prime -- there are 11 hall of famers on that team. christian laettner, he is a college hall of famer. in their prime, there is no team like that. the beijing team was really good and could hold their own, but there is no team with the accomplishment all in their prime that was better than the dream team. david: but did you ever think you could lose? mike: oh, yeah, yeah. i think we can lose every game. if you don't think you think you are going to lose, you don't prepare enough to win. and in the pros, they don't play one and done. so, in your mind, you can play poorly in a game and get a
chance. there are no second chances in olympics or world championships. david: so, when you are coaching an olympic team today, would you say it is possible if we only had college players to win the olympics? mike: no, there is no way. there is absolutely no way our college kids could beat the international teams. the international teams are too good. they are, you know, a number of the international teams would be playoff teams in the nba. and come you know, about 25% of the nba is international. no way, because you are playing men. we would get killed. david: if you had to pick among the pro players that you have coached and witnessed, who would you say is the most competitive player you have ever coached? mike: wow. well, they are all -- they would not get to where they are -- probably the two biggest assassins were when they look at you, you feel like, ok, i'm going to lose this guy, where
jordan, i think jordan is the best player ever -- and kobe bryant. their preparation and their ability to just focus is off the charts. but, i mean, you can take lebron james being one of the most talented and smartest. chris paul, durant -- durant has the the leading scorer for u.s. in the three competitions he has played in. david, one of the things i have admired from all those guys is they understood it wasn't about them. you hear expressions like leave your egos at the door, and i always told them don't leave your egos at the door, because i want you to be lebron and kobe, so when you bring them in, can we play for one ego? can we play for the u.s.? and thank god they did. david: so as you have been coaching over the years what would you say are the most
important lessons of leadership you have learned? mike: the very first thing is that in order to get better you have to change limits. when you change limits, you are going to look bad and fail. at west point, i'd learned failure was never a destination. in other words, when you're not knocked back, figure out why and change. the other thing is that you will are not going to get there alone. be on a team. surround yourself with good people, and learn how to listen. you are not going to learn with you just talking. and when you do talk, converse. don't make excuses, you know? figure out the solution, and you don't have to figure it out yourself. and to me, that is what we have tried to build our program on for the 42 years now that i've been a coach. david: now what you have done in the community is that you have started a program named after your mother, emily krzyzewski center. mike: right.
david: what does that do? mike: it is 10 years old now and really services about 1500 kids a month, and every one of the kids who has gone to the program has gone to college. it has been fantastic. and i am really proud. i was first-generation, you know, college for my family. david: so was i. mike: yes. and, and also to honor my mom, to let all those kids know that the love of parents and stuff that your parents did to put you in a position to maybe take to take advantage of some of these opportunities. david: final question, what would you like to have as your legacy or what you see as your legacy for having done what you done in your career today? mike: you know, i will let other people define that. i just like to work hard every day, and i love what i do, and make every day like it is my first day, but with the experience of 42 years. and that i was hungry every day.
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